FORT SAM HOUSTON, Texas - San Antonio area school principals and district officials met with volunteers from partner units on Fort Sam Houston April 18 to share their insight on how the Fort Sam Houston Adopt-a-School has made a difference in the lives of area school children.

During the luncheon at the Fort Sam Houston Golf Club, school officials and command representatives shared what programs and activities they were participating in at each of the nine partner schools near the post, and the difference the Adopt-a-School program has made.

Volunteers from Fort Sam Houston mentor and tutor students and participate in activities, such as science fairs, Earth Day fairs, nursing skills fairs, field trips, lunch buddy programs, intellectually disabled students programs, career days, remembrances, awards and recognition programs, cleanups and many other activities.

Service members and civilians from the 32nd Medical Brigade mentored students during lunch at Phyllis Wheatley Middle School and worked with intellectually disabled students to promote reading and socialization skills.

"Believe it or not, some of our students carry heavy burdens and they need someone to talk to," said Mary Olison, principal, Wheatley Middle School. "Because of the Adopt-a-school program, students are coming to school and their grades have improved."

At Wilshire Elementary, volunteers from the 502nd Mission Support Group and the 106th Signal Brigade participated in individual and group mentoring sessions and served as library assistants, bike rodeo judges and salsa judges.

"These amazing men and women -- I can't tell you what they've meant to our students and our staff," said Cindi Jacob, principal, Wilshire Elementary.

Lt. Col. Shannon Miller, commander, Headquarters and Headquarters Battalion, U.S. Army North, said the best part about volunteering at John J. Pershing Elementary School was seeing the impact she was making in the life of her student, Jalen, a third-grader at the school.

"She is excited to see me," Miller said. "She wants to wear my patrol cap all the time."

Miller and other Army North volunteers brought Pershing students on a field trip to the Quadrangle April 5 for an egg hunt and to feed the deer, peacocks, geese, ducks and chickens that roam the grounds. Army North service members and civilians mentor and tutor 1st grade through 5th grade students at the school in reading, math and help with testing preparation.

"Last year, our school became a recognized campus," said Kathleen St. Clair, principal, Pershing Elementary. "I really do feel Fort Sam Houston helped us to achieve success through our partnership with Army North."

School children at Fort Sam Houston Elementary enjoyed a special visit from some "hissing cockroaches" and an etymologist from U.S. Army Environmental Command. The unit also participated in an Earth Day fair, a science fair, a college readiness day and many other activities with the post elementary school.

"What's really special for the students is when they have someone unique come in and visit them," said Tonya Hyde, principal, Fort Sam Houston Elementary. "This has been a tremendous relationship for us and has been a benefit to science scores at the school."

The service members and civilians at Fort Sam Houston that volunteer their time at community schools are appreciated, said Mark Scheffler, associate superintendant, North East Independent School District.

"You are all heroes to us," said Scheffler. "Understand that teachers, administrators and counselors can only do so much. Please don't make the mistake of underestimating your role as a hero and role model."